Squash is a very tough game and when playing it we are typically under a great deal of pressure from our opponent. They are working hard to take time away from us to limit the shots we can play. Early racquet preparation is critical as it gives us time and options in selecting which shot to hit
Good racquet preparation should be the start of every shot hit in squash. What is good racquet preparation though? One of the best answers I have heard on this is from Mike Way in one of his videos with Jonathon Power and Graham Ryding. He said the first part of good racquet preparation is getting the racquet back. If you have time the racquet will probably go up as well but your first thought should be on getting it back. It is also critical that your start your racquet preparation before you get to the ball. It should start from when you leave the ‘T’ and be complete when you arrive at the position you are going to hit the ball from. At the club level you will often see a player get to the ball in decent time but not start to prepare the racquet until they get there robbing themselves of time.
Racquet preparation also gives us options as to what shot we want to hit. We need to generate racquet head speed to be able to drive the ball past our opponent. Having your racquet back is critical to this. It allows you to accelerate the racquet head through the ball to generate good pace. While having your racquet back is essential in being able to drive the ball effectively it also still allows you to play a drop, boast or lob as well.
Consistency in your racquet preparation is also very important. Not only does it give you options as to what shot you want to hit but if your racquet preparation looks the same on every shot it makes it nearly impossible for your opponent to read your choice of shot. This is probably the most key element in deception. If your racquet preparation looks the same for a drive, drop, lob or boast you not only have the option of hitting any of these shot but your opponent will not see which shot you are going to hit from the position your racquet is in your back swing.
Are there situations where we can’t get good racquet preparation? Of course if your opponent as put you under so much pressure that you are at a full stretch to just get to the ball you probably won’t have time to get give yourself options as to what shot you are going to hit. If you focus on getting your racquet back as part of your movement to the ball you will find yourself in less of these situations though and your level of play will improve dramatically.